As the 2024 mayoral race heats up, Mayor London Breed is hyping fresh statistics saying that overall crime was down by 7% in San Francisco in 2023, though that number depends on how you cook the books.
We normally get crime statistics from the San Francisco Police Department, not from the SF Mayor’s Office. Unless it’s an election year! Which it is. And with crime being probably the biggest issue heading into the 2024 mayoral race, NBC Bay Area reports on Mayor London Breed’s Tuesday announcement claiming crime was down 7% in 2023, and naturally, Breed’s claim that her leadership and efforts are to thank for this.
When we lead with enforcement & accountability & supporting communities, we deliver on public safety.— London Breed (@LondonBreed) January 23, 2024
In 2023 we saw:
· Property Crime lower than any year in the decade, except for 2020
· Violent Crime down 11% from 2019
This is good progress that we can, and will, build on. pic.twitter.com/XLdYehcl38
Breed’s press release saying crime is down highlights the above graph (which does not detail its sources or methodology). But checking other data sources, the general gist of this is fairly true.
“Our work around public safety is making a difference, but we’ve got more work to do,” Breed said in the press release. “We are not letting up on our efforts to make San Francisco a safer and enjoyable city for everyone, and this includes continuing to ramp up police staffing and giving our local enforcement agencies the resources they need to do their job. I want to thank our local, state, and federal public safety partners for their collaboration.”
Data paints a slightly different picture of San Francisco than the dystopian one promulgated by political officials and the social media sphere: the city saw an 8.2% decline in crime across the city.— Mission Local (@MLNow) January 22, 2024
Explore how crime changed in 2023:
Uhh, can we get a second opinion? We can, as Mission Local ran the numbers for themselves, and did find an overall crime decrease in the high single-digit percentages. “San Francisco saw an 8.2 percent decline in crime across the city,” that outlet reports, using SFPD numbers, adding there was “a 9 percent drop in property crimes.”
The only exception is robbery, with Mission Local finding that SF “experienced 14 percent more robberies last year.”
Running these numbers ourselves (and simply comparing 2022 to 2023), this crime decline can be more or less verified. In the above graph, crime in 2023 is the dark orange bars on the left, crime in 2022 is the blue bars on the right. And crime was down in every category in 2023, with the exception of increases in robberies and motor vehicle theft.
Breed’s press release (part of which is seen above) touts all manner of crime decreases, but this depends on how you cook the books. Notice the above claims all come with different methodology: “In the first half of 2023,” “In the last quarter of 2023,” and “In the first three weeks of January (2024).” So there is some sleight of hand here, but any crime decrease is certainly welcome.
This could be because of the CHP and state National Guard that Governor Newsom sent in to fight the fentanyl trade, or it could be because of the gargantuan amounts we’ve been spending on police overtime. Or maybe it’s because of the heavy police presence for Dreamforce and for APEC, whose few-week combined aggregate timeframes could account for a 7-8% decrease in overall crime in an otherwise normal crime year.
Either way, crime in San Francisco is trending a hell of a lot better direction than in Oakland, and for that, San Franciscans should be at least a little pleased.
Image: @KyungLahCNN via Twitter